Visit anywhere in the French Alps and you’ll be struck by the sense of freedom that they impart upon residents and guests. The pure white snow that coats the area’s hills and mountains serves as a blank canvas onto which all manner of excitement, adventure and fantasy can be projected. Whatever one wants to do with their time here, be it performing athletic feats unencumbered, experiencing a spiritual awakening or simply taking in the vibrant social scene, the landscape offers a sense of unlimited possibility. Continue reading “Climate change in the Alps” »
ActiveSPA, a combination of Fit ‘n’ Fast retreats, Alpine Detox and Yoga and ActivFamily holidays, all from the stunning location of Le Chardon Mountain Lodges in Val d’Isere, France.
Leading UK nutritionist, TV health expert and best-selling author Amanda Hamilton has launched an exciting new ActivSPA wellness holiday programme this summer in the iconic mountain resort of Val d’Isere in the French Alps offering mountain detox, yoga, walking and ‘ActivFamily’ holidays during July and August.
Based at the 5* Le Chardon Mountain Lodges in Val d’Isere, Amanda will be leading the delivery of her retreats personally with a team of experienced and professional therapists. Under the name ActivSPA, the wellness holidays include Alpine Fit ‘n’ Fast Retreats, Alpine Detox & Yoga Retreats and ActivFamily holidays.
“Over the past ten years I have held health retreats in the Alps, some of them shown on my TV series, and 5* Le Chardon Mountain Lodges in Val d’Isere is the place where we have decided to base our ActivSPA Programme this summer – it is the perfect venue for all that we are doing” commented Amanda Hamilton.
ActiveSPA will offer guests three different retreat types this summer: ActivSPA Fast ‘n’ Fit Retreats, will offers guests a chance to shape up, tone up and invigorate themselves with a luxury programme of activities, workshops and delicious food. ActivSPA Mountain Detox and Yoga, offers a stimulating week of cleansing foods and juices, yoga in mountain meadows and a range of activities ranging from luxuriating in the sun or spa, to hill walking and cycling in the surrounding mountains.
The Bespoke ActivFamily weeks include a range of activities such as hiking, cycling and glacier skiing alongside wellness and nutrition therapies and consultations. The teens, kids and toddlers will also be kept active in stimulating activity clubs which offer a massive range of outdoor activities – all with 5* accommodation, food and concierge support.
Amanda Hamilton’s ActivSPA programme joins her husband’s AlpineRouleur cycling tour company also working from Le Chardon, Val d’Isere. The AlpineRouleur program offers 5* accommodation and cycling weeks, including L’Iseran Etape week, Tour de France week, and Classic Cols weeks throughout the summer. Participants in the AlpineRouleur cycling weeks will also benefit from Amanda’s activities, including yoga, nutritional workshops, and specially constructed nutritional meals.
Want the body benefits of fasting while enjoying fantastic food? Then this is your retreat! Join Amanda and her experienced team this year in the comforts of Chalet Le Chardon for a deliciously healthy week based on the year’s hottest health topic, 5:2 fasting and HIIT (high intensity interval training) as currently featured in Amanda’s book Eat, Fast, Slim.
The Fast ‘n Fit package includes daily yoga, high intensity interval training and a daily outdoor activity. All breaks include 2 x 500 calorie fasting days taken either as juices or light meals.
“The recent popularity of the 5:2 fast has really helped people understand my holidays better – and prove the amazing benefits of fasting for health, weight loss and shape change. Simply put, the body burns more fat in a fasted state. Expect to come back from a Nourish holiday looking and feeling amazing” Amanda Hamilton.
Dates: July 7th -14th inclusive
Prices: from £1,295 per person, sharing, en suite
If you are in need of a bit more rest and relaxation, then the Mountain Detox and Yoga Week is a perfect all-round wellbeing holiday that takes in yoga, gentle hikes, spa treatments and delicious healthy food. Led by Amanda herself the package includes a nutrition consultation, development of your own personal detox plan and daily workshops.
The menus are based on the French paradox of eating and drinking delicious food yet staying enviably slim! The package includes the chance to try out a juice detox day and take part in weekly healthy cooking workshops.
Dates: 14th – 21st July; 28th July – 4th August
Prices: from £1,295 per person, sharing, en suite
Throughout July and August our ActivFamily Holidays offer guests a bespoke holiday combining all their favourite outdoor activities in the beautiful surroundings of Val d’Isere and the Vanoise National Park. Designed especially with adults, teens, kids and toddlers in mind, our dedicated concierge team will happily talk you through everything that is available to keep you busy.
Whether it be white water rafting, horse riding, tennis, archery, mountain biking, hiking or cheering on mum in the adventure park, we have it covered!
This summer, we are also delighted to offer all guests a “carte decouverte” which gives unlimited access to the Val d’Isere lift system and the stunning Aquasportif centre and wellness spa, a half day guided hike by an experienced mountain guide and 2 free activities including archery and golf.
Dates: July 7th to August 25th
Prices: from £1,795 per adult, sharing, en suite
Family owned and operated since 1992, Le Chardon Mountain Lodges in Val d’Isere is a venue known as one of the most exclusive in the Alps yet one that still offers that home from home appeal. Le Chardon comprises five luxury chalets which are situated in a private enclave overlooking the Vanoise National Park and Val d’Isere, a view that many call “the best in the Alps”.
More Details: www.lechardonvaldisere.com
Amanda Hamilton, 38, is a health expert and nutritionist who regularly features on television and radio, most recently as This Morning’s resident nutritionist. She is a well-respected author and regularly contributes to national titles and is a member of the Guild of Health Writers. Best known by many in the health industry as the founder and director of a well-known and respected retreat company, her work has led to specialisations in the field of detoxification and weight loss. She is a Senior Associate of the Royal Society of Medicine. Her new book on fasting, called Eat, Fast, Slim was released in April 2013 and is due for release in the US in Jan 2014.
More Details: www.amandahamilton.co.uk
For more information
For more information on Le Chardon Mountain Lodges, the ActiveSPA summer program and Amanda Hamilton please contact the Le Chardon Mountain Lodges sales team on 0131 209 7969 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
More details on ActiveSPA and the packages available for Summer2013 can be found here.
We at Le Chardon hate saying goodbye almost as much as our guests regret having to end their stays with us. Make no mistake, we take great satisfaction in bidding visitors farewell safe in the knowledge that their break has brought them a wealth of memorable experiences and respite from the hectic pace and minutiae of their day-to-day lives.
It is, however, somewhat bittersweet parting with guests, most of whom we work with closely in order to ensure that their stay is as comfortable, relaxing and convenient as possible. Gone is the sense of expectation, excitement and possibility displayed as they arrived, replaced by dignified resignation at having to return to normality. It’s unfortunate for us that the more successfully we have done our jobs, the stronger these sentiments can be.
We like nothing more than to see people happy and it’s for this reason that we welcome and dread the end of the ski season in equal measure. There are surely few places on Earth as dynamic and full of life as the Espace Killy in April. In a previous blog entry, we made special mention of the Après-ski scene that reaches its annual zenith during this time, but the area has more to offer than even some of the most notoriously uninhibited parties in all of Europe.
Put simply, Spring’s combination of golden, sustained sunlight and fresh snow is so dazzling that it one can’t fail to be inspired by it. No artificial stimulants are required for an energizing, unforgettable time in such a climate and many are happy to limit their participation in Après-ski in favour of more subdued and reflective experiences.
For those interested in chilled out fun, dropping by the Foustock music festival is the perfect activity. Running from the 19th to the 21st of Apri, the event is held in Le Salon du Fous, a welcoming spot located in the heart of Val d’Isere and renowned for its fortnightly concerts. To cap the ski season off, a top bill has been assembled featuring the likes of atmospheric pop-rockers Sugar Girl and a lively troupe of gypsy jazz artists. It’s truly rare that one gets the chance to enjoy world class musicians playing against such a stunning backdrop and so this is certain to be a popular event.
Elsewhere during the month, Val d’Isere’s long running series of daily football tournaments draw ever closer to their conclusion. Having kicked off on the 1st of February, entrants have until the 31st of May to show off their skills as teams of four engage in battle over a series of short games.
That these are played on snow results in some brilliantly unpredictable action as winter and summer sports collide!
With the usual host of eclectic activities on offer, perhaps the most essential is to simply take the local air in as one soaks up Val d’Isere’s unique magic. Between 6-7:30pm every Thursday until the 2nd of May, Airstar Night Light has made this possible like never before, transforming the village into a pedestrianised zone alight in a multitude of colours. With hot chocolate and vin chaud available, what more could one ask for? You’d have to be made of pretty strong stuff not to miss this when it’s all over.
Whenever the end of the ski season draws near, people of all nationalities make their way to Val d’Isere, eager to enjoy the area’s assets while they still can. Many of these individuals are seasoned ski veterans, perhaps having even acquainted themselves with our slopes in the preceding five months. Others are simply novices intent on experiencing the pleasures of winter sports while the window of opportunity remains open to them. Often furnished with all the latest equipment, most take to the snow with aplomb, conducting themselves safely on runs that match their levels of skill and experience. It has to be said, however, that a surprising number of visitors fail to fully comprehend the effect that the type of skis used can have on one’s performance and enjoyment.
As their name suggests, allround skis are the most versatile ski type and it’s no coincidence that they are far and away the most common on the market and on display at Val d’Isere. They are of medium length, width and stiffness, and can adapt to use in most skiing styles. It can be argued that, due to their lack of thrills, they allow the wearer to showcase their skills in their purest forms. The dimensions and properties of skis are responsible for their characteristics and, when straying from the allround’s conservative simplicity, one encounters more specialist fare.
Shorter skis, for instance, can be suitable for both beginners and Slalom racers depending on their stiffness. While a stiff ski benefits the latter by cutting through the snow as it aggressively builds momentum, flexibility allows beginners to recover from mistakes with greater ease. In both cases, the skis’ shortness allows for ease of movement and turning. In contrast to them, powder skis designed for off-piste skiing value width and length as a means of distributing weight across a large base. Once they pick up enough speed, this enables them to float above soft layers of unpredictable and unmaintained snow. Giant slalom skis and downhill skis (these can be dangerous in the wrong hands and so are generally commercially unavailable) are the longest by far, designed to pick up maximum speed and handle sharp turns. The most unconventional are freestyle skis, the twintips and flexibility of which allow brave wearers to ski backwards!
While the skis one uses should always be determined by their practicality, this is not to say that style shouldn’t come into consideration. The following, all top brands, are some of our favourite models spotted this season.
Salomon Rocker2 90
Wagner Custom 100
Like most Wagners, the custom 100 is an expensive model, yet its price is wholly justified. It’s been deemed “suitable for anyone, anywhere” and rightly praised for its ease of use. Quite simply, it’s custom-made perfection.
Capable of reaching jaw dropping speeds, the Cochise is aimed at strong, serious skiers. Thankfully, it doesn’t throw users in at the deep end, its rocker allowing for a smooth initiation.
This new pro model from Seth Morrison is an incredibly versatile proposition, suitable for all terrain. Whether going slow or fast, its lighter construction, makes for a smooth descent.
Nordica El Paco
Supremely flexible and with an early rise built in to the tip, these skis were this season’s ultimate playthings.
With the ski season set to end on 5th May, there’s been an influx of visitors arriving in Val d’Isere determined to make the most of one final month’s access to snow and slopes. There’s still so much to do in Val d’Isere at this time of year. Spring is always a special time in this part of the French Alps, as longer and lighter days allow winter sports fans to really put in the hours atop layers of fresh snow. Indeed, for the past few years, March has seen more snowfall in the region than any other month, this tending to last well up to May with very little thawing in spite of marginally less freezing weather!
If these April holidaymakers are intent on maximising their time on the slopes and making the most of the daylight hours at their disposal, so too do they embrace the area’s Après-ski scene which isn’t so much winding down for the year as building toward an unforgettable climax.
No-one knows exactly why, but somehow rounding off an evening with drinking, dancing and generally raucous socialising has become a necessity for skiers the world over. Many are apparently unable even to wait until the end of their day’s activities. In Val d’Isere and throughout the rest of the Alps, it’s not uncommon to stumble upon skiers stopped in bars and still wearing all their gear en route to their last run of the day! Visitors to the region are serious about having good times and this is reflected in the bars and clubs that cater to them.
La Folie Douce is perhaps the most well known Après-ski spot in Val d’Isere. Proud to call itself the ‘highest club in Europe’, it’s also the first port of call for many. Between 3-5pm, its resident musicians offer revellers immersive, high energy performances, adding to the venue’s surreal, even carnivalesque atmosphere as table tops become dance floors and the place begins to buzz. For a high energy break in the afternoon, La Folie Douce can’t be beaten and paves the way nicely for an evening spent in Saloon. Situated at a much lower altitude, at the bottom of some beginners slopes and in close proximity to Val d’Isere’s high street, there’s a great party taking place at this easily accessible venue on a nightly basis. The club even provides a free ski-park service, so that patrons can leave their gear in safe hands as they enjoy the international bands, singers and DJs that it regularly hosts.
If what goes on in both these clubs is testament to the enthusiasm and vigour with which revellers in the area like to party, then Val d’Isere institution Dick’s Tea Bar is surely an indicator of their stamina. One of the best and biggest clubs in the region, it first opens its doors at 9am, allowing patrons the opportunity to start their day, and possibly recover from the previous night, with a hearty English breakfast. It continues to function as a popular bar and restaurant until the evening when it briefly closes to undergo a metamorphosis into a densely populated hot spot with a broad clientèle. In theory, one could spend an entire day at Dick’s without ever getting bored.
As the end of the season approaches, the atmosphere in these three spots is nothing short of electric and spending time in each is considered an essential part of any visitor’s itinerary before they explore further a boisterous world of theme nights, karaoke, live music and cocktails.
So far it’s proven to be an uncharacteristically chilly Spring in most areas of Europe. Consequently, the thick layer of snow currently coating Val d’Isere is perhaps less of an enticing novelty than it usually is at this time of year. While it’s likely that many will be spending their April in a cold climate without having made any travel plans, there’s no chance of visitors to the area leaving feeling short changed. Hordes of people are arriving in order to enjoy the precious remaining weeks of the ski season in France, with a typically compelling programme of events in Val d’Isere awaiting them and their families.
Kicking off proceedings from April 2nd to 5th is La Scara, four days of international junior alpine ski racing. Look out for talent scouts amid the throng of proud parents and spectators that crowd this ever-popular event, all striving to catch a glimpse of tomorrow’s champions today!
This blog has already gushed in anticipation of Val d’Isere’s first ever Yoga festival. Lasting from April 5th to 7th and affording interested parties the opportunity to meditate within a unique setting, the festival is sure to leave all who choose to combine it with a skiing trip feeling invigorated and free. It consists of 24 themed workshops, instruction from 12 teachers, a concert of Indian music, a cafe selling organic food and a market at which one can stock up on Yoga-related paraphernalia. Limited places are still available.
In a departure from the Yoga Festival’s holistic focus on body, mind and soul is the following BMW Val d’Isere Winter Golf Tournament (11th to 14th April). A novel take on the Scottish sport, the tournament is sure to be an interesting experience for competitors and spectators alike.
The rules of traditional golf apply to its high altitude cousin, the main difference being that if your ball lands on a green, then chances are you’ve over hit it by a good few miles. It’s the snow-bound caddies we feel sorry for!
Rounding off the month is the Adventure and Discovery Film Festival (22nd to 25th April), an event that’s been running annually since 1996. Entrants are invited to submit short documentary features concerned with any of the following themes: adventure, exploration, ethnic encounters, sport or expedition. The 12 best submissions will be screened throughout the week and judged by both the public and by a select jury of well known adventurers. The screenings are free to attend and will be followed by discussions with the film makers. Diverse and inclusive, the Film Festival is the perfect way to reflect on the latest ski season as it draws to a close.
As April approaches, we at Le Chardon are growing increasingly excited about Val d’Isere’s inaugural Yoga festival, the first of its kind to be held in a French ski resort. Conceived by Charlotte Saint Jean, founder of the website YogaChezMoi.com, the English expatriate has stated that “My dream was to share my passion for yoga, meditation, life and the magnificent surroundings of my adopted home.” Having put together a programme comprising 24 yoga workshops, a performance of Indian music, a market selling a multitude of yoga related products and an organic cafe, Charlotte is on the verge of making her dream a reality in Val d’Isere that she hopes to share with enthusiasts of all experience and skill levels.
Participants will have a selection of 12 internationally sourced instructors on hand to help ensure that they achieve states of physical and mental balance, each boasting a distinct approach to meditation. Jane Allan, for instance, practices a fusion of Pilates and Yoga designed to lighten, open and energise the individual, while Katy Misson’s Anusara-inspired technique draws from her work as a physiotherapist. The workshops are themed and range from exercises in back bending and arm balance to musical response. Of all the session titles listed, ‘Lunar Dragon Flow’ and ‘Return to Earth’ are perhaps the most intriguing.
Of course, Val d’Isere is best known as a haven for skiers and the festival has been designed to allow for and compliment enjoyment of winter sports. High octane thrills and disciplined calm may at first seem incompatible, but both lead to heightened sensory awareness and can exist in perfect balance as constituent parts of a healthy, active lifestyle. The curious are advised to try this combination for themselves and, if they heed our advice, may find themselves acquiring beneficial exercise techniques that they can come back to long after the ski season has reached its conclusion.
The festival runs from April 5th to 7th with limited places still available.
Not to be confused with the similarly named UK music awards, The BRITS is Europe’s original winter festival and offers unrivalled opportunities for entertainment and relaxation. It’s unlikely that attendees will at any point be subjected to the sight of Jarvis Cocker’s malnourished rear end, find themselves embroiled in a feud with Liam Gallagher or incur the wrath of Adele. Instead, they can expect to enjoy breathtaking views, stunning slopes, the finest refreshments and late night live sets from a host of world class DJs and performers. The festival offers an impressive week’s worth of activities and can only be enhanced by a stay at one of our luxury catered ski chalets in Val d’Isere.
The BRITS is perhaps best known for its winter sports championships and the high standard of talent that these attract. Any British national can enter in the hope of achieving athletic glory, the most prestigious being the Slopestyle Championship, a celebration of aerial acrobatics certain to result in an adrenaline rush for both competitors and spectators alike. The Trespass Cross event was the most watched at the 2010 Winter Olympics and has been a phenomenally popular draw at The BRITS ever since, while the Dare2b British Half Pipe Championship is set to be equally unmissable. To cap things off, a new contest designed to test the prowess of daredevil British jibbers debuts this year.
If all of the above sounds a bit too daunting, then fear not. The beauty of The BRITS is that it offers something to enthusiasts of all skill sets. Festival wrist bands and lift passes offer week long access to numerous slopes of varying difficulty, while its musical programme has been designed to engender communal good times. The atmosphere of London eight piece Lazy Habits’ gigs has been compared to that of “the best house party that your parents never wanted you to have,” while a Back to the 90s disco will provide the perfect opportunity for many festival goers to relive their best years. Just be sure to pack your Adidas Originals in with your skis and snowboard.
Based in Tignes, an attractive commune nestled within the Tarentaise Valley, the festival’s hive of activity is but a brief distance from Val d’Isere, both settlements comprising the famed Espace Killy ski area. However, while seven days of uninterrupted revelry from 23 March 2013 doubtless appeals to many, our catered ski chalets in Val d’Isere mean that guests can choose when and for how long they wish to commute over to Tignes for a little Brits mayhem and use our designated drivers to take the pain out of skiing there and back.
Val d’Isere is well known for being one of the most popular European ski resorts, but there’s more to Val d’Isere than just skiing and boarding, there’s a whole host of activities and events to enjoy.
Choose from adrenaline-fuelled activities such as husky sledding, ice driving or snowmobiling. Or if you would rather take it a little easier, you can enjoy a range of activities from browsing the shops, to a gentle stroll taking in the stunning scenery or even enjoy a relaxing massage. There’s something for everyone, for snow sport enthusiasts as well as non-skiers.
If you like walking and hiking there are many different types of walks to challenge all abilities. Glacier hiking will provide amazing views but will seriously test the legs. Or enjoy the views on a winter hike in one of the 24km of marked trails which provide a more peaceful way to enjoy the winter wonders. Another popular activity is snowshoe walking which provides another great work out for the legs. Lightweight plastic snowshoes strapped to your shoes make walking in deep snow so much easier. Those preferring cross-country skiing will take pleasure in exploring the 21km of tracks in Val d’Isere. For more details about cross-country skiing in Val d’Isere read our recent blog on the subject.
Festivals and Events
The winter season always brings plenty of events to Val d’Isere. As well as the events featured here read on to find out more about what’s still to come this season.
Festival Thursdays take place every Thursday night until 2 May, between 6-7:30pm when the village of Val d’Isere is lit up with an array of different coloured lights. Take a stroll through the village to wonder at the amazing ice sculptures and enjoy the street entertainment and music whilst keeping warm and savouring tasty hot chocolate or mulled wine.
From street lights to fireworks lighting up the sky, the ESF, the French national ski school will be hosting a firework festival Tuesday 12 March bringing the slopes alive at night. The programme includes a technical demonstration, a torchlight descent and a spectacular fireworks display.
From classical to contemporary there’s music for all tastes.
St Bernard Menthon, an old baroque church in Val d’Isere is the venue for the classical music festival ‘Classicaval’. Under the artistic direction of Frederick Lagarde, the programme features classical pieces composed by talented composers such as Beethoven and Schumann. A must-visit festival for all classical music lovers.
Later this month, from 23-30 March, The Brits Snow and Music Festival, Europe’s week long winter festival is heading to Tignes just along from Val d’Isere and all part of the Espace Killy ski area (which includes Le Fornet, Val d’Isere and Tignes). The festival features a combination of skiing and snowboarding competitions with live music.
There are more events scheduled in Val d’Isere for April, the yoga festival is from 5-7 April, there’s winter golf from 7-13 April and a film festival from 22-25 April. More information on what’s happening in Val d’Isere to follow soon.
Taking clients away to a luxury ski resort is a great way to cement existing business relationships. However, when you’re making the leap from the boardroom to the slopes, there are a number of things you’ll need to consider.
When you’re planning on taking clients away, the ski resort you choose will be influential in the overall success or failure of your trip. If you’re looking to entertain clients on a weekend ski break, perception is everything.
For example, if you book a lesser known ski resort, the perception could be you don’t value them as one of your top clients.
Other factors to bear in mind are the location of the resort to your client’s home or offices and whether or not they’ve previously been to the resort you’ve got in mind. For example, if your clients are based in the north east of Italy, Val d’Isere in France could be a good resort choice.
Another factor worth considering is the range of skiing abilities within the group. The last thing you want is to have one of your clients who’s a complete novice skier going away with a group of advanced skiers. Skiing ability is obviously reflected by the choice of slope at the resort and it would be unfortunate if one of your group was left isolated due to having a different level of competence on the snow.
The accommodation is another crucial part of any corporate skiing trip to get right. Some clients may be happy for everyone to stay together under the same roof in a luxurious chalet, while others could be more reserved and expect their own private sleeping quarters.
Based on your existing relationship with the client, you should already have a feel for what’s most appropriate. If you’re planning on booking a catered chalet, it can be beneficial and more sociable if everyone has dinner together in the evening after a hard day’s skiing.
As with your choice of resort, the accommodation you book your clients into will speak volumes about how much you value them. First impressions count, even on corporate skiing trips.
It’s not just your time at the ski resort you have to think about. It’s also important to focus on the other little details that can make a big difference to your clients. For example, how close is the accommodation to the slopes? How will your clients get from the airport to the resort? Have you arranged lift passes in advance so you don’t have to queue to get on the slopes every day?
When you’re organising a corporate ski trip, it’s good to have someone on the ground in the resort who knows how everything runs. Things such as making dinner reservations at the best resort restaurants or arranging a local musician to come and play for your guests are all made easier by having someone at the ski resort with local knowledge looking after you.
A corporate skiing trip should be an enjoyable experience for everyone involved. By taking the time to plan properly and follow the steps mentioned above, your time away on the slopes with clients is sure to be successful.
Image credits: www.morguefile.com